Female, born at Glasgow Zoopark 02/07/1980.
Male, born at Glasgow Zoopark 04/11/1989
Male, born 22/06/1996
(Parents: Bananas and Scruggs)
Male, born 03/09/1999
(Parents: Bananas and Scruggs)
Kept separate from the family
Male, born 10/12/1990
(Parents: Suzy and Percy)
Male, born 28/10/1992
(Parents: Bananas and Percy)
ZooPark has maintained this group since the original pair arrived
in 1972. Since then as the majority of births have been of males,
they have been moved on to other zoos on maturity.
and white markings on the head probably assist recognition of individuals,
especially in the shadowy conditions of tropical forest.
are called Capuchins because of their resemblance to Capuchin Friars
who wore a black cap or capuche.
- specialised tactile hairs - on the brows, cheeks, lips and chin.
tail - an adaptation to tree living only found in some New World
monkeys. Strictly speaking Capuchins have a semi-prehensile
tail unlike, for example, Spider monkeys.
eyes are at the front of the head as in humans, allowing stereoscopic
vision (depth perception), a big advantage in judging distances
between branches. Widely spaced nostrils - pointing sideways are
typical of New World primates.
The nostrils of humans point forwards, indicating we are Old World
Capuchin's fingers and toes are flexible and able to grasp which
is a characteristic of all primates.
of the capuchin monkeys possess a fifth limb, a prehensile tail,
and come from the tropical rainforests of South America. However,
the Tropics of South America extend over a vast area and many countries,
so, not only are there several species, but several races, within
each species, especially of the black and white capuchins.
All of the founder animals (or ancestors) of the three main captive
groups of white-throated capuchins in UK zoos were acquired in the
early to mid-1970s. That means they are almost certainly of Columbian
origin as, according to dealers we have discussed this with, that
is where the imports were coming from at that time. To this day,
exporting wildlife to obtain currency which, in turn, can be used
to finance arms or drug deals is a common occurrence, though hardly
in the spirit of modern-day conservation.
Our original pair, which we acquired in 1972, consisted of an adult
male, Rio, and a sub-adult female, Suzy. Once Susy matured, she
started breeding, producing one young every three years or so. The
vast majority were males, which substantially inhibited our attempts
to build up a group. The first youngster, Tich was hand-reared
by keeper, Jim Kay, and the subject of a detailed account in our
Annual Report and Ratel, the journal of the Association
of British Wild Animal Keepers (ABWAK). We managed to integrate
Tich back with his parents early on, once hand-rearing was complete.
To this day, it is regretted that when he started to be picked on
by Rio a few years later, we sent Tich and a younger brother to
another collection instead of setting him up with another group.
When Rio suddenly died of a heart-attack in the late 80s, we were
lucky enough to be able to offer a home to the breeding male belonging
to Lord and Lady Fisher at Kilverstone Wildlife Park in Norfolk.
This male had been kept on an island (constructed out of a field
by the simple expedient of digging large trenches with a digger,
then letting them fill with water!) with a group of females. As
with a number of the capuchins owned by Lady Fisher, he had been
hand-reared. He had as a result no fear of, or respect for, human
beings, including his keeper, which was unfortunate. When she waded
out to the island one day to feed the capuchins, he attacked her,
injuring her severely on face and hands. A new home became a necessity.
Although cages are often thought of as a necessary evil, this need
not necessarily be the case. For many animals, including birds,
a cage is home, to which they return voluntarily for security and
food after they have been let out to roam at liberty for a while.
To a zoo manager, a cage, be it wire or glass-sided, is also safe.
It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as an island, but it is
safe and the animals within can be controlled, separated, moved,
treated, and cannot get at you, should they turn aggressive. Accordingly,
we had no hesitation in offering a home to the Kilverstone male,
Percy, especially as he had produced several offspring of his own
and was thus a proved breeder.
Percy arrived sporting a luxurious, shaggy coat of black and white,
the result of several winters on an island with little or no heating.
Several years on he still possessed a thick coat, although nowhere
near the magnificence of those first few months, and for this we
can blame our centrally-heated Small Primate House. Ultra-thick
coat or no Percy lets us know in no uncertain manner exactly what
he thinks of those humans he knows, which is not much. He fluffs
his coat out, grimaces and stares and warns you to keep away from
his preserve. No-one would every want to meet him on an island!
Every time he carries out his threat ritual, the author thinks back
to zoo conferences in the 1970s hosted by London Zoo, when Lady
Fisher kept hurrying from the room clasping the handle of a towel-covered
wicker shopping basket to attend to a tiny black and white shape
wrapped round a hot-water bottle, wailing for its milk, and wonders
whether his first view of the muscular menace in front
of him had been one of those mewling blobs.
In 1993 when Glasgow Zoo hit its real cash crisis, and the animal
collection and staff had to be reduced, half of the capuchin group
went down to the Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park, near Chard in
Somerset. The remainder have continued to breed from time to time,
still producing males predominantly. Our capuchins, under the T.L.C.
of keeper Moira Baird, receive a very enriched diet. Not
only do we feed a complete pelleted food but many additional food
items on a constantly changing basis. It may well be that this very
high nutritional plane is stimulating a constant production of males
and, theoretically, we could - and should - find this out. To tell
you the truth, though, none of us has the desire to fiddle about
with, or restrict, the diet of a group of monkeys which, to us,
are far more than a group of experimental animals, but recognisable
and highly individual characters, each and every one.
visiting the Capuchin monkeys it may be of some help to consider
the following notes on their body movements an an aid to understanding
at: Interest; mild threat
at: looking quickly or repeatedly at the dominant member of
the group can spark conflict. It can also be a means of receiving
reassurance from the dominant member.
on back: Common during rough play. It indicates accessability
and promotes contact between group members.
of Back or Chest to Another Members' Face: To sit facing or
lying down with back toward another is commn during grooming.
Posture: Standing on ALL FOURS with back slightly arched.
Bouncing is a way of returning a mild threat.
Shake: Branch shaking is a way of asserting dominance, but can
also occur when feeling threatened. It is a medium-high threat.
NOT EASY BEING WEE...
our baby White-throated capuchin is growing up fast. At 6 months
old (March 2000) he is more or less off mum; Bananas' back, and
exploring things by himself.
Things should be easy for him... investigating branches, discovering
insects, sitting in the water dish (whilst there's still water
in it...) and passing time by having a good poke around inside
dad Scruggs' nose. But just when he thought the going was
easy - BAM! Big brother Scotty (4) is on the case to make
things difficult! Poor little Harvey has had to take a crash
course in climbing and hanging on to things, as Scotty likes
to wait patiently whilst his baby brother masters the art of climbing
across a branch and then grabs him by the tail and tries to pull
don't be worried by this behaviour - it's perfectly natural. It's
not just us humans who terrorise their wee brothers! If Scotty is
even a tiny bit too rough with the baby, Scruggs is usually the
first to step in and give him a quick clip round the ear.
got a shock the other week though when he was tormenting Harvey.
The sneaky wee baby turned round and bit his brother on the
tail with his brand new needle sharp baby teeth! Nose put firmly
out of joint and tail throbbing, Scotty ran to his mum for
comfort. Bananas however, let him stew for a good ten minutes
before inspecting and grooming his tail.
quite hard being a baby monkey, with lots of new thing to discover
and figure out, like what is a worm, and what are you supposed to
do with it?
Often when it's been raining, I'll go out and collect a dish full
of thick juicy worms and offer them to the group, who all come down
and pick out one or two, retire to a branch and munch away. Harveys
first worm gave him a bit of a shock. He watched everyone else pick
and eat their worm, and as 'monkey see monkey do', he carefully
made his way down to the enclosure floor and put his hand out to
pick up a worm from the dish.
He picked out a huge thick bloodsucker - the kind that's all dark
red at the end - and started to bring it towards his mouth. Well,
just as he did this, the worm wriggled and extended out to about
twice its size and gave the wee man the fright of his life! He dropped
it on the floor and opened his mouth in the typical capuchin teeth-baring
threat stance, (except he didn't really have a lot of teeth at
the time, but I'm sure the worm was terrified!) and started
squealing at it. The worm proceeded to slide up and onto his foot
and he just sat there, terrified and squeaking away until Bananas
came down, picked him up and scoffed the worm. Needless to say,
he hasn't had another one since!
should get better for him now he can bite Scotty and fight
back a bit, and of course mum's always there to run to when it all
gets too much.
out for the youngsters antics during the summer, as we will be constructing
a rope play-area within the outside enclosure using the rope which
The Royal Navy at Faslane kindly gave us, with swings and
tyres. I can only imagine the trouble those two will cause...!